Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Kingdom of God


6 million people during the Papal Mass at the Luneta
January 18, 2015
A week ago, 6 million people gathered at the Luneta for the Mass offered by Pope Francis. In spite of the bad weather, so many people came and the gathering broke the record of the World Youth Day with Pope John Paul II in the same place 20 years ago. This huge gathering is itself a manifestation of the Kingdom of God on earth and in today’s gospel, we are shown where it all began. It began when Jesus walked by the shores of the Sea of Galilee and invited Peter, Andrew, James and John: “Come after me, I will make you fishers of men.” The Lord Jesus began building his Kingdom on earth by calling 4 men to follow him, that is, to be his disciples.

Jesus began by preaching: “This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand.” In fact, these words summarize the entire Gospel that the Lord was sent to preach to the poor. He was sent to proclaim the Kingdom of God. What is the Kingdom of God? The Catechism tells us:  “”To carry out the will of the Father, Christ inaugurated the kingdom of heaven on earth. Now the Father’s will is to ‘raise up men to share in his own divine life.’ He does this by gathering men around his Son Jesus Christ. This gathering is the Church, ‘on earth, the seed and beginning of that Kingdom.’” (CCC, 541.) When the 4 men heard the summons of Christ and left everything to follow him, they were actually gathered by the Father around Jesus…for the Lord himself said, “No one can come to me unless the Father draws him.” Here we see the beginnings of the Church, the beginnings of the Kingdom of God on earth. And looking back at that immense crowd that gathered in the Luneta, we have witnessed how the Kingdom of God, the Church, has indeed grown. From an initial calling of 4 men, the Father has gathered around his Son billions of people. The Kingdom of God is indeed like a mustard seed that is the smallest of all seeds and yet, it grows to be the biggest of plants and is able to provide shelter to all creatures.

What happened last Sunday was not simply a huge gathering around the Pope. In reality, it was an immense gathering of people around Jesus. Some people may have missed it but it was Jesus, and not the Pope, who was at the center of the gathering. The Pope and all of us were all gathered around the Altar upon which the Body and Blood of Jesus was offered to the Father.  Indeed, Jesus was at the center of that gathering: “Christ stands at the heart of this gathering of men into the ‘family of God.’” (CCC, 542.) And that was what we were last Sunday, and that is what we are now as we gather around the Altar of the Lord. Our gathering is the “family of God.” The Church is the Family of God. Let us not forget this: the Church is the Family of God…the Family to which we belong. “Jesus calls all people to come together around him…Into this union with Christ all men are called.” (CCC, 542.)
Sunday after Sunday, the Lord Jesus calls all men, all of us, to gather together around him. He summons us, as he did to Peter and Andrew, to James and John. And imitating the 1st disciples, upon hearing his summons, we must leave everything to follow him. “To gain his Kingdom, one must give everything. Words are not enough, deeds are required.” (CCC, 546.) To be part of this gathering, we have to leave behind our usual preoccupations, our usual concerns. We have to drop everything in order to be with the Lord. We leave everything behind to come here and gather around Jesus because we recognize that only in him is found life everlasting. As St. Paul says in the 2nd reading: “The world in its present form is passing away.” And St. Peter tells our Lord: “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life…and we have come to believe that you are the Holy One of God.”

Jesus, I trust in you! O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

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